AIKEN, S.C. - Call it a case of brotherly love.

Two Windsor boys were outside their home playing several weeks ago when their brother accidentally hung himself from a tree with a karate belt. Rather than panic or run into the home to get help, one of the boys lifted the ailing brother up enough so the other could untie the belt. First responders said the boys' actions likely saved their brother's life.

During the morning TV show at Oakwood-Windsor Elementary School recently, 8-year-old Malachi Padgett and 10-year-old Jaivous Rosario were awarded the Citizens Lifesaving Award by Windsor Fire and Rescue for staying cool under fire on Feb. 14 when their brother, 10-year-old Joehailan Rosario, was in trouble.

Firefighters received a call involving an unconscious 10-year-old child about 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 14, according to Shanon Boothe of the Windsor Fire Department. They arrived at the home and found Joehailan unconscious on a bed.

"He was playing with a karate belt," Boothe said. "I don't know if he was using it as a scarf or something like that. He was climbing trees, and when he came out the tree, that's when it caught. His brothers happened to turn around and see what's going on, and then that's when they jumped into action."

Jaivous remembered hearing Joehailan call for help.

"He had called our names and we were coming," he said. "When we got over there, we just saw him laying on the ground. His lips were turning purple."

Boothe and two other firefighters began working on Joehailan and giving him oxygen. Joehailan was transported by ambulance to Georgia Regents Medical Center. Boothe said he never regained consciousness and was later put on a respirator.

Taisha Rosario was in Aiken shopping, and remembers the horror of receiving a call from her father telling her there'd been an accident.

"Between everything going on in the background and me panicking, all I got was that Joehailan hung himself," she recalled. "It was scary. All I see is a bunch of police cars, an ambulance and firefighters.

Doctors were concerned about possible brain damage, Rosario said. He woke up about 4 a.m. that Saturday.

"The first thing he did was, he reached out and he rubbed my face," she said. "I knew he recognized me. You could tell he was coherent, he was trying to talk."

Rosario said Joehailan quickly improved, and later tests confirmed there was no brain damage. He went home that Monday.

"Them taking that measure, doing it that quick instead of running and getting somebody, it's probably the reason this little boy doesn't have a serious brain injury or didn't pass away," Boothe said.

Louis Morris, another firefighter who responded to the incident, said Malachi and Jaivous were heroic not only in getting Joehailan down, but also in helping first responders after they arrived at the home.

"Jaivous was at the end of the driveway, waving me and Shanon in," Morris said. "We've seen some pretty bad things. It gets to you, especially when kids are involved. We both have kids his age, and we hear something like that - your heart sinks because you never know what it could be."

Morris said the two brothers stayed out of the way while rescuers worked on Joehailan, and the brothers were also helpful in answering questions.

"For their age, it was really amazing the way they handled it," Morris said. "I think they might have a future helping other people."

Joehailan recently met the first responders who helped save him for the first time since the accident. He said the last thing he remembered before it happened was playing in the yard. Then, nothing.

"Joehailan, you're very lucky, buddy," Boothe told him. "It happened on Valentine's Day, so that's why we came up with the brotherly love thing. We don't understand why things happen a lot of times, but some good came out of this. We appreciate what they did, and we're glad to see you here talking with us."

Firefighter Kyle Quill asked Joehailan if he remembers them "yelling" at him, trying to get him to wake up the day of the incident. Joehailan shook his head.

"You're very special," Quill said to him. "For some reason, you're supposed to be here. Don't forget that."

Rosario said the three boys are extremely close, and that Jaivous and Malachi called repeatedly to check on Joehailan. The experience has made them closer.

"Those few minutes made a major difference. Those could have been moments of life or death," she said. "It made us realize how short life can be. It made us appreciate how quickly someone you love can be taken away from you - in the blink of an eye."

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Information from: Aiken Standard, http://www.aikenstandard.com